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Why do I use my favourite tools least often?

Blog by Rob Brown
I Look Forward to Glue Squeeze-Out

While I was taking some photos for an upcoming article the other day, and had a large collection of knives for shop and home use out on my workbench, I noticed a drop of solidified glue on my bench top.

I reached for my trimming plane, which removed that glue drop with ease. As I was putting the trimming plane back, it occurred to me how I always enjoy using it, though I rarely get the chance to put it to work. I stood in front of my wall-mounted tool cabinet admiring this nicely made tool with its beautiful details. On top of its nice visuals, it’s also comfortable in the hand and works well.

Any others?

This prompted me to look around the shop for other tools I really like, but don’t get to use often enough. Not far from my workbench is my clamp wall, with about 200 clamps on it. I obviously love every single one of those clamps, as each type has its own perfect time to shine in my woodworking shop. There was one, however, that stands out. Not because of its size, though it does have a very deep throat on it. Not because of is colour either, as it’s fairly plain chrome. (You know how much I love a colourful tool!) There’s no sentimental value to it; I got it new about 10 years ago. It’s stronger than some of the other F-clamps I own but, honestly, strength isn’t my main concern 99% of the time, as most clamps are more than strong enough to do the job

Why do I love it so much?

The threads on this Bessey RSC-12 F-clamp are so smooth it’s a joy to use, even under high pressure. When it comes to using cheaper clamps, you all know what I’m talking about. The handle is easy to turn as you start to apply pressure to the clamp-up, but as you add pressure the handle becomes almost impossible to turn, even though the clamping pressure isn’t overly high yet. I’ve literally ended up needing physiotherapy on my wrist after clamping 24 bent laminations with lower-quality clamps. Not fun.

 

As a bonus, these clamps are also bent so that vibration while the clamp is applying force will reduce the clamp from loosening. I’ve never had this problem, but I’m guessing in some machine shops this can be a consideration.

Even more

Not far from my workbench is my collection of angle grinders and power carving disks and equipment. I love power carving but, again, I don’t do it often enough. Even with all the cutting attachments I own, and all the awesome things that can be accomplished with power carving, I only rarely use these tools. It’s also pretty much impossible to sculpt wood with any other tools, at least in an efficient and enjoyable manner.

 

Same with my Festool Domino XL. It speeds joinery like I never could have imagined. Strong, accurate fitting joints can be created in seconds, and in some cases I can play around with the tenons and create something quite beautiful. Even though it isn’t cheap, the Domino XL is certainly worth its money in many shops, both pro and (especially) amateur.

 

If I could just move around my shop all day and use the tools and machines I wanted to, life would be grand. But who would pay the bills? If you’re a hobby woodworker you have the advantage of doing pretty much whatever you want, and I’m honestly a bit jealous of that luxury. I think it was James Krenov who said something to the effect of “It’s amateur woodworkers who are making the best furniture in the world.” I believe that’s true, as they’re the lucky ones who can work untethered to the clients’ wants or budget. It’s their own time they’re spending, and they can use it at their own discretion.

 

Enjoy your time in the shop, but more importantly, enjoy your time with your favourite tools. Appreciate what they have to offer and use them as respectfully as possible, for you’re both nothing in the shop without each other.

I Look Forward to Glue Squeeze-Out

Nicely machined knobs, a smooth hardwood handle, a solid feel in the hand and an edge that will trim flush. What’s not to love? If only I had more glue squeeze-out.

I Look Forward to Glue Squeeze-Out

My Favourite Clamp

A smooth-acting clamp that’s easy to use, even at high pressure. This Bessy clamp is a joy to use.

My Favourite Clamp

I Have the Power!

Power carving is loads of fun, especially with good quality cutters.

I Have the Power!

Quick and Strong Joints

The Domino XL is a wonderful beast that can’t be replaced.

Quick and Strong Joints
Published:
Last modified: March 13, 2024

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

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